WatchSonoma Watch

County receives $1 million grant toward parkland purchase


Sonoma County’s Regional Parks Department has received a $1 million state grant to help purchase 297 acres in the Mark West Creek watershed north of Santa Rosa.

The land is eyed for a future park and open space preserve, along with 800 acres the county has already purchased in the area.

The Cresta Diamond C Ranch on Porter Creek Road. (PD File)

The proposed 1,100 park, off Porter Creek Road, takes in grasslands, oak woodlands and creeks that flow into the Russian River and offer spawning grounds for steelhead trout and coho salmon.

About $8 million is needed to complete the final land purchase. With the new grant, county park officials estimated they have raised about $2 million.

Other grant applications could bring in about $5 million, said Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart.

The area has “great ecological value” and “all the features of a perfect park,” Hart said in a written statement. “The grant brings us one step closer to sharing this site with the public.”

The county hopes to purchase the 297 acres by the end of next year. The land is part of the McCullough and Cresta ranches, which also factored in the previous county acquisitions.

The county’s taxpayer-funded Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District purchased 340 acres of the Cresta property in 2007 and 461 acres of the McCullough property in 2009 for a total of $14 million. Guided tours of the land are available through the Open Space District.

After the final purchase, opening the park could be three to four years away, Hart said. The interim period would allow for planning and time for an owner currently living on the property to relocate, she said.

The ranches border protected lands to the north and their purchase would create a contiguous 4,500-acre wildlife corridor stretching from the Mayacamas Mountains to Mark West Creek and its tributaries.

The $1 million state grant was funded by Proposition 84, approved by voters in 2006, which provides money for projects to protect and restore areas along streams and provide public access.

You can reach Staff Writer Brett Wilkison at 521-5295 or brett.wilkison@pressdemocrat.com.

6 Responses to “County receives $1 million grant toward parkland purchase”

  1. Dan J Drummond says:

    I remember Prop 84 back in Nov 2006. It’s a wonder it passed with 54% of the vote, after the failed very expensive special election Arnold Schwarzenegger put us through in Nov 2005.

    The ballot title was: Water Quality, Safety and Supply. Flood Control. Natural Resource Protection. Park Improvements. Bonds. Initiative Statute.

    I voted for it mostly for the protection of our natural resources. I hope the other grants go through and we are able to purchase the land. Completion of “a contiguous 4,500-acre wildlife corridor stretching from the Mayacamas Mountains to Mark West Creek and its tributaries” is of “great ecological value.”

    Protected we stand = thumbs_up
    Developed we fall = thumbs_down

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  2. Reality Check says:

    So the county gets $1 million in “free” money while California taxpayers get an additional $1 million in bond debt to repay. Dictionaries need to rewrite their definition of free.

    And then there’s little matter that the $1 million applies only if the County spends another $7 million on a particular parcel of land.

    If we keep getting all this free money, how soon before we’re broke?

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  3. Jen says:

    Petaluma has one county park for 60,000 people. Could we please have some more?

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  4. John Pendergast says:

    Woo hoo! Free money! Wait, it is free right?

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  5. James Bennett says:

    Is a grant like debt?

    Is a park a place I can visit in the future?

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  6. Dan Drummond says:

    Don’t count on these lands or any of the other acquisitions being opened up for public access anytime soon. Even though we manage to come up with money to buy these parcels, there’s no money for operations or maintenance. Meanwhile negotiations with the county’s 11 employee bargaining units trudges on. The outcome of these negotiations re compensation and pension reform are key to freeing up some money to make these lands available to the public.

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